Jackie Gamboa

Jackie Gamboa

Ph.D. Chemistry & Producer

The Big Electron Podcast

Columbia, MO USA

[In my research] I am always trying things that don’t work. You learn to fail, embrace it, and then try again the next day.


By Roadtrip Nation

Jackie Gamboa


My road in life took a while to figure out.
Was born and raised in Mexico.
She is the first person in her family to go to college and feels that this has positively impacted younger members of her family and inspired them to pursue a college education.
Prior to starting graduate school, she was chosen to be a roadtripper for Roadtrip Nation Season 10 in 2012—says this experience changed her outlook and provided a support structure for success.
Inspired by her experience with Roadtrip Nation, she started a science podcast called <i>The Big Electron</i>, which has led to her getting more involved in leadership and advocacy roles in science.
She served as the South Central Regional Chair at the University of Missouri for the National Association for Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS).
In the middle of her doctoral studies, she had unexpected health problems, including three surgeries, which almost forced her to sideline her research—a supportive advisor encouraged her to persist.
Received her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2017—her research centered around genetics, specifically in the creation of DNA crosslinking agents to study DNA damage in aging and diabetic models.
She now works as a postdoctoral fellow at both MIT and Harvard University where she continues her research into DNA damage.
Keep following my journey


Ph.D. Chemistry & Producer

I am a research scientist studying DNA damage and the host of "The Big Electron" podcast.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

The best part about my job is that I never have a same day, it's always challenging coming up with new ideas. My main tasks are to do experiments trying to see what causes DNA damage and how to observe it. Granted I have to run many controls and side experiments to make sure that I'm actually observing what I think I have. So I have to prove myself and other scientists that my work is worth it!

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Don't let professors / peers / other students deviate you from your dream job. Go into undergrad research, summer internships, volunteer, but also one summer do something completely out of the "norm," it will challenge you and make you think differently.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Teachers:

"You should go to grad school and become a professor."

Challenges I Overcame

First-Generation Immigrant
First-Generation College Student